Rural Employment, Wage and Wage Guarantee:Is MGNREGA on the Right Track?
Generation of employment opportunities for the growing labour force in India has been a matter of concern for India's planners. The limited impact of trickle-down theory and Harrod-Domar approach to development has pressed the Government of India to structure, implement and restructure various poverty alleviation and employment generation programmes from time to time. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), a restructured wage employment programme, was initially implemented in 200 selected backward districts in India since February 2, 2006 and was extended in two phases to all over India ensuring legal rights to at least 100 days' unskilled wage employment to the unemployed rural poor. The objective of this paper is to assess the importance of MGNREGA and to study how the programme has been administered since its notification. Besides assessing various provisions made in MGNREGA, this paper analyses secondary data on the implementation of the programme in selected major States with a view to addressing the following research issues:
a) What are the emerging issues in India's labour market and is there any need to implement a right based wage employment programme in India?
b) What is the trend/pattern in the utilisation of resources?
c) What has been the outcome of the large investment under MGNREGA and what is the way ahead for improving the implementation of the Act to make it more attractive and inclusive?
The concepts of MGNREGA are novel and innovative though the programme continues to suffer from the age-old operational and functional rigidities, like its predecessors. MGNREGA's successful implementation not only requires active involvement of the people along with an able, transparent and responsive administration, but also a synchronised approach to converge the benefits of this employment generating and infrastructure-building initiative with various other development oriented schemes already in operation in rural areas.